William E Crane (1842-1905)

US Army, 1861-1864

My great, great uncle William E. Crane (and his twin sister, my great grandmother, Emma S. Crane) was born July 28, 1842 in New York City. He enlisted in September, 1861, was promoted to Full 1st Sergeant in January 1862, taken prisoner of war in July 1863, and mustered out in October 1864 at Harper’s Ferry, WV. He served in Company F, 94th Regiment of the New York Volunteers, 15 Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps. I have copies of several letters between William and his sister Emma while he served.

His sister Emma was married in 1862 to a William G Smith, who we presumed died in the war (researching a Smith isn’t easy). In 1866 Emma married Josiah Phillips in East Elba, New York. In 1868 Josiah, Emma and baby Bertha moved to Linn County, following their good friends from New York, Erastus and Elizabeth Taylor. They settled on property that today borders the northwest city limits of Marceline. Their daughter Bertha later married the eldest son of their friends and neighbors Erastus and Elizabeth Taylor, Manly Howe.

In 1878 William E. Crane moved to Linn County, following his twin sister. He settled on 40 acres at the north edge of what became Marceline, and built the home that today is owned in trust by Kaye Johnson Malins. W. E. Crane died in November, 1905 and his estate was administered by my grandfather Manly Howe Taylor. The farm was sold to Elias Disney in the spring of 1906. W. E. Crane was buried at Elmwood Cemetery and later reinterred at Mt. Olivet in Marceline.

In 1938 Walt Disney wrote for the Marceline newspaper, “I clearly remember the day we arrived there on the train. A Mr. Coffman met us in his wagon and we rode out to our house in the country just outside the city limits. I believe it was called the Crane farm. My first impression of it was that it had a beautiful front yard with lots of weeping willow trees.”

If you also read the story of Erastus Taylor, you could surmise that the stories Erastus told young Walt Disney of the Civil War might have been stories of his neighbor and friend, W. E. Crane.

Chris Taylor Ankeney

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